John L. Sullivan, 74, a member of the Metropolitan Police Department for 26 years before retiring in 1966 as an inspector and the head of the robbery squad, died Sept. 11 at Georgetown University Hospital after a heart attack. He lived in Washington.

Mr. Sullivan was chief of security for Giant Food for five years after he retired from the police department.

He was a past president and chairman of the Policeman's Association of the District of Columbia. He became well-known as an advocate on Capitol Hill for increased benefits and salaries for police officers.

He was a past president of the International Conference Police Association and the National Association of Police Organizations Inc. At the time of his death, he was chairman of the Retired Police Association legal unit.

Mr. Sullivan was a native of Plymouth, N.C., and moved here in 1928. He joined the police department in 1940 as a private. Six months later, he received the first of his more than 130 commendations when he won a gun battle with a man attempting to rob a gas station.

In 1944, he was promoted to detective sergeant and assigned to the narcotics sex squad. He became commander of the sex squad in 1952 and head of the department's special investigation squad in 1961. He was named head of the robbery squad later that year.

Mr. Sullivan was a charter member and past president of the Shepherd Park Lions Club, a past vice president of the Greater Washington Board of Trade's protection committee, and a member of the Association of Oldest Inhabitants of the District of Columbia.

Survivors include his wife, H. Myrtle of Washington; a son, John L. Jr. of Springfield; a daughter, Dolly L. Mott of Ormond Beach, Fla.; a sister, Sunbeam Woodard of College Park; seven grandchildren, and one great-grandchild.